FROM the moment Alison Platts' son Gabriel was born, the Rockhampton mum knew there was something different about him.
Gabriel wouldn't feed, was admitted to hospital after going limp in his cot and didn't cry until he was about three months old.
Doctors diagnosed Gabriel with autism when he was 18 months old.
Now aged three, Gabriel has taken big steps with the support of programs like Play and Share at The Umbrella Network.
Although he is still non-verbal, Alison said programs at the centre had helped Gabriel interact better with the world around him.
"When he was first diagnosed, he couldn't handle being anywhere at all," she said.
Alison said when Gabriel was stressed by other people or new sensations he would scream or get nosebleeds.
"He's quite different to a lot of kids who have autism," she said.
"He doesn't seek out senses, he avoids them.
"He can't handle being around other kids a lot, but he's come a long way from being at places like this, a really long way."
Alison said the diagnosis was a shock initially, although she had always suspected Gabriel was different from other children.
"Hearing the word 'autism' you freak out and go 'what's wrong with my child?', but then you realise there's nothing wrong with them, they just think differently to other children," she said.
"We don't want him to be anything other than what he is and we definitely don't care that he has autism. It's just who he is, it's just the way he thinks.
"We love him for who he is and wouldn't change him for the world.
"We wouldn't even take his autism away."
Apart from helping Gabriel, Alison said The Umbrella Network had also helped her connect with other parents in similar situations.
"I think it would be quite hard to do if we didn't have that help from everyone," she said. "I can't imagine not having people around me going through the same thing."